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Thread: Omega 6:3 ratio clarified please!!!! page

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    trail chick's Avatar
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    Omega 6:3 ratio clarified please!!!!

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    Hi Mark,

    Can you please write the definitive post on keeping your daily Omega 6:3 ratio balanced (and why) in a REALISTIC way? (I mean, I read all the forum posts and some suggest eating cow brains on a regular basis. Give me a nice liver any day, but brains are just not happening for me, thank you very much.) If you shouldn't just pop a fish oil tablet every day, why not?? And should you really be eliminating foods like almonds/chicken etc. that seem high in Omega 6s?? As a relative newbie, I would love your feedback on keeping the ratio in a reasonable range (4:1??) without obsessively striving for perfection, counting every fat gram, or eliminating perfectly good Primal foods just to get your ratio down. You know, the PB Way!! THANKS!!!!!

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    I would like to see a guide to balancing the 6:3 ratio as well. I agree that it is very confusing to start keeping track of when it's not something I followed at all before. Sample meals/day or week to keep the ratio healthy would be awesome!
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    Check out Track your progress on the Paleo diet - PaleoTrack which gives you the opportunity to check your O6:O3 ratio. Have a play and see how much or little effect adding some vegetable oils have on the ratio. Try egg and bacon.

    I've started eating way more fish since I found that tracker...
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    I like the advice of Kurt Harris and Chris Kresser:

    Archevore - Archevore Blog - There is No Such Thing as a Macronutrient Part I -*Fats

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Harris
    DHA/EPA are found in pastured butter, beef and lamb, and fatty fish. These are the n-3s that balance the n-6s and that determine the denominator of our 6:3 ratio. As I’ve said before, your total PUFA should be no more than 4% of calories and your 6:3 ratio no higher than 3:1, preferably less than 2:1. You will not achieve this if you eat a lot of chicken or handfuls of nuts. If a person has unavoidably high n-6 in the diet, then adding some DHA/EPA is a good idea. The higher the total PUFA above 4%, the more benefit to supplemental EPA/DHA. So n-3 PUFA is a good fat if you need it, but once your 6:3 ratio is OK, it becomes a bad fat, as it is even more unstable and reactive in your body than n-6 LA, as it has more double bonds. So here we have a fat whose goodness is entirely contextual, depending on the rest of the diet (consumption of n-6) and even the present status of tissue saturation by n-6 due to dietary history.
    http://chriskresser.com/how-much-ome...nds-on-omega-6

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Kresser
    To summarize, for someone who eats approximately 2,000 calories a day, the proper n-6 to n-3 ratio could be achieved by:

    1. Making no changes to n-6 intake and increasing intake of EPA & DHA to 3.67g/d (11-oz. of oily fish every day!)
    2. Reducing n-6 intake to approximately 3% of calories, and following the current recommendation of consuming 0.65g/d (three 4-oz. portions of oily fish per week) of EPA & DHA.
    3. Limiting n-6 intake to less than 2% of calories, and consuming approximately 0.35g/d of EPA & DHA (two 4-oz. portions of oily fish per week).

    Although option #1 yields 60% tissue concentration of EPA & DHA, I don’t recommend it as a strategy. All polyunsaturated fat, whether n-6 or n-3, is susceptible to oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is a risk factor for several modern diseases, including heart disease. Increasing n-3 intake while making no reduction in n-6 intake raises the total amount of polyunsaturated fat in the diet, thus increasing the risk of oxidative damage.

    This is why the best approach is to limit n-6 intake as much as possible, ideally to less than 2% of calories, and moderately increase n-3 intake. 0.35g/d of DHA and EPA can easily be obtained by eating a 4 oz. portion of salmon twice a week.
    I don't really track my ratio. I try to get most of my protein from red meat and limit my nut and poultry consumption. And I eat a can of sardines most days of the week.
    Last edited by yodiewan; 11-01-2011 at 05:11 AM.

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    It makes sense to reduce the amount of O6 instead of increasing the O3 to balance the two out. I usually try to eat around 1.5 lbs of fish each day, and I have reduced my egg, bacon and nut consumption considerably. By doing this I have ended up around 1:2 according to paleotrack.
    Last edited by Sungrazer; 11-01-2011 at 05:42 AM.
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    That Archevore piece is really interesting.

    If a person has unavoidably high n-6 in the diet, then adding some DHA/EPA is a good idea. The higher the total PUFA above 4%, the more benefit to supplemental EPA/DHA. So n-3 PUFA is a good fat if you need it, but once your 6:3 ratio is OK, it becomes a bad fat, as it is even more unstable and reactive in your body than n-6 LA, as it has more double bonds. So here we have a fat whose goodness is entirely contextual, depending on the rest of the diet (consumption of n-6) and even the present status of tissue saturation by n-6 due to dietary history.
    I try to go grass-fed and pastured as much as possible, which means a lot of beef, some pork, a little chicken, a steady diet of eggs, lots of veggies, primary fats are EVOO, bacon fat, tallow, etc. I also prepare a lot of fish, especially fatty fish, and anchovies and sardines.

    I'm not too worried about my n-6s being as out of whack as the SAD, but I do supplement with cod liver oil and fish oil pills, but I think people who use larger supplement amounts could run afoul of the n-3 issue above.

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    polyunsaturated fat should be a very small portion of the diet (2%). Grass fed meat or cafo meat is a very small source of 06:03.

    I'm a big fan of avoiding fish oil and just eating some cold water fish and not much else in the way of polyunsaturated fat.

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    without obsessively striving for perfection, counting every fat gram, or eliminating perfectly good Primal foods just to get your ratio down.amber's bridal
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail chick View Post
    Hi Mark,

    Can you please write the definitive post on keeping your daily Omega 6:3 ratio balanced (and why) in a REALISTIC way? ... As a relative newbie, I would love your feedback on keeping the ratio in a reasonable range (4:1??) without obsessively striving for perfection, counting every fat gram, or eliminating perfectly good Primal foods just to get your ratio down. You know, the PB Way!! THANKS!!!!!
    Wow, all this time and hardly a decent answer to this decent question! Right away, namelesswonder rephrased it quite well: "I would like to see a guide to balancing the 6:3 ratio as well. I agree that it is very confusing to start keeping track of when it's not something I followed at all before."

    Why is it that this question is never cleared up? And I mean, on all the forums I read, it is just left hanging out there: a whole new health question that people must deal with? "How do I balance these omega's???"

    Well, let me tell you what I've found. The whole issue of balancing O6:O3 is a trick question. It is phrased in the wrong terminology. The problem is that ever since it was determined that all the oils that are put into all the junk food are a serious health issue, the food and supplement industry have conspired to change the names to protect the food industry and at the same time sell a lot of fish oil.

    While the rancid/trans/oxidized and otherwise ruined fats that gets put in pastries and most processed foods and is used to fry most fast foods is the only culprit you need to avoid to get back to health with respect to oils (and back to the revered "O6:O3 balance" for that matter), the food industry doesn't want you to focus on that. And the fish-oil industry doesn't want you to focus on that either because they want you to think you need to UP your O3 intake to bring a balance. This is simply not the most simple answer.

    The simple answer is that you would bring health to your life if you merely removed all processed foods from your diet, and stopped using cheap vegetable/nut oils to cook in or pour on your salads at home! This would also bring you back to an O6:O3 balance! But that is WAY too easy an answer.

    Why would this bring you back to balance? Because the primal diet was always sufficiently in balance! No one worried about omega's. Not 3 million years ago, and not 100 years ago. O6 is an essential food. Both O6 and O3 are considered "essential fatty acids" because your body needs them, but can't make them. And your body actually needs more O6 than O3. But just as for all foods, natural, fresh, organic, and un-cooked is best. Anything after that is a compromise. You are getting O6 and O3 in some proportions in EVERY FOOD you eat! Just because there is relatively more in meat, dairy, fish and nuts doesn't mean these 2 oils aren't in every food. Especially O6 is required in every cell membrane in the entire universe, plant and animal. No one was meant to have to "balance" these foods in a paleolithic diet or in a modern-day diet. It would be just a huge chore that would exhaust you. Forget about balance and remove ruined non-foods from your diet and you have nothing to worry about. Eat grass-fed meats and dairy to get back to a primal diet. That's all one needs to worry about. If you eat a primal diet, you will have balance. Whether it is 4:1 or 1:1 won't really matter that much if you get enough of each, O6 and O3! That's because healthy O6 is not a poison, it is required by your body. In reasonable amounts (primal) it is a healthy substance. It is only the ruined forms that are already oxidized and can't transport oxygen into cells that can be considered "inflammatory".

    What's more important is if you stop eating junk foods, you will have removed one of the main substances from your diet that contributes to cancer, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes.

    All the talk about "balance" and "inflammatory O6" is just hype, started by the supplement industry and parroted by health guru's that have never read the research on fatty acids.

    If you want to read a paper on this, written for physicians but very readable, with plenty of references to the research:

    http://brianpeskin.com/BP.com/report...okLDL-CAMB.pdf

    If you manage to get through this document, you will know how damaged fats that started out as healthy O6, but were ruined in processing, actually cause arterial plaque, blockages, encourage the initiation of cancer, and help bring on diabetes. But you will also learn a lot about LDL cholesterol, the drug industry's push of statin drugs, and what the O6:O3 ratio's are in different organs of your body. For instance, the brain and nervous system actually have 100 times as much parent O6 (linoleic acid) as parent O3 (alpha-linolenic acid). Muscles have over 6 times as much O6 as O3. Omega-6 is not something you want to avoid. However, ruined Omega-6 in commercial seed/nut oils is something to stay away from. Do that thoroughly and you don't need to worry about "balance".
    Last edited by stoneharbor; 12-27-2011 at 11:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stoneharbor View Post
    The simple answer is that you would bring health to your life if you merely removed all processed foods from your diet, and stopped using cheap vegetable/nut oils to cook in or pour on your salads at home! This would also bring you back to an O6:O3 balance! But that is WAY too easy an answer.
    That's all that really needs to be done. Well that and not obsessing about stuff.
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